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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney

Release Date: 2nd December 2010 (US). No date as yet for Australia

My Rating: 3/5

Some schools have honour codes. Others have handbooks. Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honourable way, the Themis Way. So when Alex is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone, especially yourself, you fight for it.

My Review:
The Mockingbirds is the story of Alex, a high school junior at an exclusive boarding school, who wakes one morning to find she has been dated raped after having a few too many drinks. Not wanting to go to the police, and knowing full well that her school won't do anything, she is faced with the decision of what to do next. Concluding that she will just get on with her life, another option presents itself in the form of The Mockingbirds, an underground student-run justice system, born due to the absurdity of a school that sees everything through rose coloured glasses.

Once Alex enlists the help of The Mockingbirds, not only is she dealing with her own issues and the fact that she is going to have to tell more people about what happened and relive the event each time she tells it, but she also has to wait to find out if The Mockingbirds will even take her case, as sexual assault isn't something that has been brought to them before. Alex will be setting a precedent and with that comes more pressure, especially as more girls with similar stories, come out of the woodwork.

While the book does focus on the lead up to what outcome will prevail, the majority of the story talks about how Alex's ordeal has changed the person she is, and who she will become. It discusses how the assault has altered her everyday life, from having to sit in class with the boy, to taking the long way around campus just to make sure there is no chance she will run into him. She stops eating due to the fact she now avoids the school dining hall to avoid seeing him and his friends. Things that she once excelled at now take a back seat in her mind and favourite memories and pieces of music are tainted with the memory of what happened. If she dates again, how will the future boyfriend perceive her? Will they see her as easy? As damaged goods?

Guilt and blame are things that get tossed around quite a bit. Alex goes though her own confusions as she slowly remembers events from the night, what she did, what Carter did and her thoughts as to whether it was her own fault she was raped or if the blame lies with Carter, the smug water polo player prancing around campus. She also goes though various phases of guilt in regards to taking action against Carter. Her very loyal and sometimes persistent friends blame themselves for letting her drink too much, and of course they blame Carter most of all. Carter thinks he did nothing wrong. The question is, what do The Mockingbirds think?

I love that all the different angles are explored, with Alex experiencing all of them. We don't just have the view that it was all Carter's fault. I like that she second guesses herself, that she has doubts, because even if these doubts are unfounded, it's human nature.

Having such a fantastic support network amongst her friends, The Mockingbirds, and later a teacher, prove to be essential in Alex's courage to speak up and also move on with her life. While she judges and doubts herself, her friends never do. Having someone around to talk to about what she is going through who won't judge her, proves a major contribution to her independence, strength and ability to stand up for herself. As well as this, having friends who will let her carry on with life as normal, and not let it define her, are just as important.

While debut author Daisy Whitney has stated that the book is entirely fictional, the story itself was inspired by her own experience being date-raped in college.

As a side note, I love all the To Kill A Mockingbird and Harper Lee references used throughout the book. Hopefully they might inspire those who have not read the classic to pick it up.

This is an ultimately uplifting novel about standing up for yourself, triumphing over injustice, the issue of consent, the importance of friendship and finding your inner strength even when you don't think you have any.

For fans of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh - love that there are reference from to kill a mockingbird in this! loved your review - i think i'm going to love this one - i like introspective reads :)



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